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Tue, Jul

Viruses Surge Worldwide

WELLNESS

HEALTH ALERT - A slew of once-controlled diseases are roaring back to prominence all over the globe — and scientists don't fully know why.

  • Measles, tuberculosis, strep throat and dengue are all surging, according to an analysis from Bloomberg and disease forecasting firm Airfinity.
  • Flu cases in the U.S. are up 40% over pre-pandemic levels. Cases of whooping cough in China are 45 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Australia has seen RSV cases double in just the past year.

What they're saying: A lot of this has been blamed on "immunity debt" — the idea that COVID lockdowns softened people's immune systems, so now they're more vulnerable to other diseases.

  • But the opposite may also be true: Countries that contained COVID well are now seeing high rates of excess deaths, while many places where it spread widely are back to their pre-pandemic baselines. 
  • "Why would it be worse in places that did a good job? That seems a bit strange. Some of this is the idea that those countries kept frail, elderly people alive," Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told Bloomberg.

Rising global poverty and declining vaccination rates — driven by a combination of pandemic-era interruptions and anti-vaccine movements — are also partly to blame.

 

(First published on AXIOS PM.)

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